Koshka's Kingdom





The Scratching Post
Wildcat Den
Mount Paozu
Observatory
UFO
Per-Bast
Town of ZZT
Castle of Doom
Library of Babel
Reptile House
Haunted House
Dock

Devil's Advocate: War is Indeed Peace, Freedom is Indeed Slavery, Ignorance is Indeed Strength


I decided to do something special. I have a lot of topics that I want to talk about but I don't feel like writing a whole rant about any of them right now, so I thought that instead it might be amusing to instead pass time by trying to argue something that seems incorrigibly nonsensical just to see how it comes out. In this case, that the doublethink tenets of The Party in George Orwell's novel 1984 - war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength - are true. Despite how obviously contradictory all three of those statements are, I believe that a case can be made for all three of them, depending on how one defines certain words.

Let's start off with "war is peace." At the very least, I feel that a strong argument can be made for saying "war begets peace," or even "war is necessary for peace to exist." For the sake of simplicity, let's imagine a hypothetical nation that is populated entirely by gentle, peaceful humans who abhor conflict and would never so much as hurt a fly. Let's call this nation "Eloi" after the docile future humans in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. Now let us imagine that Eloi is bordered by a nation named Morlock, that is full of barbaric simian people that has taken to raiding their neighbours, pillaging their villages, and murdering them enmasse.

In this scenario, the Eloi are faced with two choices: either submit to the attacks and watch as their peaceful society is ravaged and forever destroyed by the invading savages, or save their society by compromising their peaceful nature to form an army to repel and slay the invaders. Perhaps they could also save lives and money in the future and prevent such a calamity from recurring by building a big, beautiful wall on their border with Morlock.

War may not literally be peace, but is as vital of an ingredient for peace as sunlight and water are for plants. An immune system is not a human, but a human is not a human (for very long!) without an immune system. It is an unfortunate fact of the natural world that peace and equality are wholly unnatural and as such, cannot exist without constantly being maintained with the use of force, or the threat of doing so. In any society or other large group of individuals, there will always be bad actors seeking to commit malicious acts, possibly to obtain a greater slice of the metaphorical pie or a greater rank in the imaginary hierarchy. Without force to push back and keep them in check, peace and order will be steadily degraded away like wood in the rain.

How much force is needed depends on the populace. In a monocultural first world society, the only deterrent needed is the threat of the friendly local police officer paying one a visit. In some more primitive societies, peace only exists because the military is constantly waging a low-level war against factions of insurgents and criminals. In such cases, war is literally peace.

It is also worth noting that any war that the rulers are able to successfully sell to the populace as a necessary course of action, inevitably helps unite a nation. President George W. Bush had the highest approval rating of any U.S. president since records began being kept of this, immediately after declaring his war on terrorism following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also of note is that the next highest cases all involved a war being successfully brought to an end. It would seem that nothing can bring people to come together as one nation quite as well as a war can.

Of all three statements that I am arguing for here, "freedom is slavery" might be the most difficult one, but there are still some points to be made here. If one is truly free and has a veritable cornucopia of choices available to them, then that person is also shouldered with the burden of having to make the best decisions that they can make for themselves in everything they become involved in. The more decisions one has to make, the more stress, work, and demands are imposed on them.

Contrast the relatively laidback life of a regular modern human with the life of one 10,000 years ago. It is inarguable that the ancient human had more freedom than any modern one, but this freedom came at the cost of additional responsibility. The ancient human could go wherever they pleased and do whatever they wanted, but there was no police to save them from being murdered by a hostile tribe whose territory they strayed into, no animal control to call for help if they found themselves assailed by a wolf. There was no guarantee that they would be able to obtain food in the future, no guarantee that they wouldn't be attacked by a wild animal in their sleep, no guarantee that they or their tribe would survive the next winter. All of these were issues that ancient humans had to constantly devote time and energy to dealing with.

Let us also contrast a CEO and a low-level worker who works for their company. The CEO, who molds the company and its culture to their hearts content - undoubtedly enjoys far more freedom in the company than the low-level worker, who may not even be able to get away with wearing their favourite shirt in the workplace without being fired, but at what cost? At the end of an 8 hour workday, the low-level worker is free to clock off and go home and do as they please for the next 16 hours (or two days if it's a Friday.) The CEO on the other hand, never clocks off. Their job dominates their life as much as a gaggle of special needs children dominates the life of a stay-at-home parent. The freedoms that their position affords them, also rob them of the freedom to have dinner with their family without being interrupted by a work-related phone call, or the ability to have a vacation that consists of anything other than working in different surroundings than usual.

The CEO also finds themselves having to make decisions that could make or break their livelihood on a regular basis, while many jobs on the lower rungs of a company can be done without having to expend more mental energy than is needed to scratch one's nose. This brings me to my point -- freedom, by its nature, brings burdens that are their own form of slavery. I am not here to defend the institution of slavery when I say this, but a slave's position brings about its own package of freedoms.

For example, a slave does not have to worry about making any decisions. They do not have to wonder about the logistics of obtaining their next meal, or of how the property that they are housed in will be maintained so that it does not fall into ruin. Their every survival need is provided for them by their owner, and they only have to worry about following that person's orders. Just the same, a regular worker only has to worry about following their manager's orders, and they do not have to spare a single worry about the greater issues that their company is facing. They do not suffer from sleepless nights over these issues, knowing that the buck stops at their feet, and that they and countless others may wind up unemployed because they did not make the correct decision. The burdens and responsibilities given by power and freedom are indeed their own form of slavery.

The last one, ignorance is strength, is the one that I think is the easiest one to argue. The main reason is that society rewards confidence on all levels. A bumbling halfwit who is exceptionally sure of themselves will invariably enjoy more success than a bashful intellectual in everything from finding a romantic partner to landing employment. People are evolutionarily hardwired to make snap judgments about other people in order to save time and mental energy (hence why stereotypes are a thing,) and as such will automatically perceive a confident person as being competent unless proven otherwise.

Unfortunately, there is a negative correlation between IQ and confidence -- the dumber and more ignorant someone is, the more likely they are to believe themselves to be intelligent due to being unable to comprehend their own limitations. This is populary known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. The more one knows, the more they realise how much they don't know. Imagine being in the middle of a massive dark warehouse and having only a candle to illuminate the area around you. Now imagine being in that same warehouse but having a large, bright flashlight instead of the candle. In the latter scenario, you are afforded a much greater understanding of the scale of the warehouse, and a much more accurate idea of how much space there potentially is in there that you are not aware of. Similiarly, modern science has far more questions that it wants to answer than it did 1,000 years ago, as a result of there being so much more that is now known.

Being exceptionally intelligent can be an outright curse due to all of the pitfalls caused by being unable to relate to average people (normies) and being crippled by overthinking and being far too aware of one's own limitations. These issues make it difficult to tolerate banal interactions with commoners, which severely limits romantic and employment-related opportunities in a world where who you know is treated as far more important than what you know and how you can do it. These issues also often make high IQ people become too misanthropic to even bother.

Referencing H.G. Wells yet again, there is a popular saying "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." H.G. Wells wrote a short story called "The Country of the Blind" that provides a believable counter to this. In this story, an explorer discovers a village populated entirely by blind people. Although initially hoping to rule over them due to his advantage, his sight is dismissed by the villagers in an increasingly hostile manner as they label him defective and attempt to drag him down to their level. Although a mere work of fiction, this is a very realistic portrayal of how possessing a high IQ is more of a curse than a boon when it comes to dealing with society.

So there you have it: up is down, water is dry, and mayonnaise is edible. Make sure to increase the obscurity of my website by sharing it with your friends!